Practicing Gratitude Makes Us Happier Even During Divorce

by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

My experience and science proves it: practicing gratitude makes us happier, even while going through divorce.

One very important segment of my law practice involves helping clients navigate the rough and choppy waters of divorce. As one might expect, this is typically a very difficult time where my clients often feel overwhelmed, anxious, flawed and dejected.

As their attorney, I listen intently to each of them as they pour their hearts out to me. The pain they feel is very real and I readily acknowledge it, but I don’t leave them there. The many years spent in this role has taught me a lot about the divorce process, and not all of it has to do with divorce law. What I have come to know is that divorce with all it difficulty and pain, is an opportunity for both individuals to begin again – to reboot their lives, so to speak. So, I try to offer them encouragement, a place of calm and security and hope for future happiness.

Over the years, I have come to realize that women going through divorce could benefit from a wide range of expert advice and counsel throughout the divorce process. I created the Guide to Good Divorce program to be a source of encouragement, hope, strength and community for divorcing women as they transition out of marriage and into the next phase of their lives.

We share many practical tools in our seminars to help women handle the stress and terror that comes with divorce. We also offer ways to shift the perspective from one of fear to one of gratitude. I know in my own life and in the lives of many people I know, gratitude is vital to our inner peace and overall happiness. That is why cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a unique hallmark of our program and an important segment of each seminar.

In a new book entitled Thanks, Dr. Robert A. Emmons conducted several studies on the psychology of gratitude and found that being thankful can increase one’s happiness. In one study, people who took time to write down five things they were grateful for in the past week felt 25 percent happier than those who focused on “hassles” or neutral events over the same time period. The grateful group was also more optimistic about the future, felt better about themselves and even exercised 1.5 hours more a week that the others. In another study, Emmons found participants who expressed gratitude also were more satisfied with their lives overall and slept better.

I encourage my women clients to not only practice gratitude, but seek out a community of supporters. The comfort and power available from a community of like-minded women experiencing similar challenges offers a peace that comes from shared solutions. I have found again and again, that divorce is difficult, but it can be a transformative experience.

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